Keiligh Baker, Daily Mail, December 14, 2014
A taxi company has come under fire for supplying white drivers on request.
Privately-run 35 Taxis, based in Hull, claim they are simply responding to requests and are doing nothing wrong.
Hull City Council have agreed that the policy does not run contrary to the conditions of its licence–but a local councillor has slammed those people requesting white drivers, saying it sends out a ‘very sad message’.
Taxi firm owner Gary Wilkinson said: ‘You cannot stop customers making requests.
‘We will try to send a white, British driver, if we are asked, but we do tell our customers we can’t always guarantee it.’
Mr Wilkinson insisted his company was not discriminating and said he had 25 drivers of non-white, British origin who all did ‘a fantastic job’.
He added: ‘I am totally against racism of any kind. I am married to an Arabic woman and our children are mixed-race.
‘A customer may have had a bad experience with a coloured driver in the past.
‘Maybe they have felt a driver has ripped them off. Some people will then say, “I only want a white British driver”.
‘It’s racist, because these people are not ringing up the next day saying don’t send me a white driver if they happen to think a white driver has overcharged them.’
Wayne Harrison, owner of rival firm 50 Taxis, claimed up to one in five of all his customers also demand a white British driver–but he refuses to oblige them.
He said: ‘Customers will ring you up and say “Don’t send me a . . .” They’ll then use a racist word.
‘We don’t give them a choice. We will send a car. It’s up to them if they get in or not.’
He said he employs 50 drivers, including four or five who are not white British and added: ‘They are super workers.
‘They just want to earn a living.’
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees because of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin.
However, there is no suggestion private-hire companies who respond to customers’ requests are breaking the law.
Councillor Rosie Nicola is the Hull City Council’s cabinet member for equality and community cohesion.
She said: ‘I find it really sad that people in Hull are ringing up our taxi companies making these kinds of demands.
‘It’s a really sad message to be sending out that people aren’t happy with someone based simply on the colour of their skin.
‘If someone doesn’t want to get into a taxi driven by someone with a different skin colour, make them wait in the cold.’
One local lawyer, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘This is a very thorny issue–a nest of vipers.
‘There may be discriminatory issues under the Equality Act 2010 committed by call operators if they were to offer a job only to a white British driver.’
In October it was revealed that a taxi company in a town tainted by a child sex-grooming gang scandal offers customers white drivers on demand.
Rochdale minicab firm Car 2000 offers the choice after two taxi drivers of Pakistani origin were jailed for their part in the sex trafficking and rape of young white girls in the town.
The firm, which bought out Eagle Taxis–a company at the centre of the grooming scandal, has revealed that many customers were asking for white or ‘local’ drivers.
It came out amid rising tensions in Rochdale following revelations of gang rapes, grooming and trafficking of white girls at the hands of mainly Asian gangs.